Trade negotiation is a process in which nations meet together to discuss the possibility of trade, with the goal of reaching a trade agreement. Both nations have a vested interest in negotiating a successful trade agreement because it has the potential of promoting economic growth and allowing companies to expand their markets, but both are also concerned with protecting their economy and safety. Trade negotiations can become quite complex, and may involve more than two nations, along with moderators who take a neutral stance to help the countries reach an agreement.
International trade is one of the backbones of almost every economy in the world. While many companies do thriving business domestically, the ability to expand into international markets is critical. Nations also count on international trade to access goods and service which cannot be produced domestically, and to export goods and services which they know other nations want. For example, if a country cannot produce silk, it needs to be able to obtain silk from another nation in order to meet the demand for silk within its borders.
During a trade negotiation, representatives of nations interested in trading with each other meet to discuss the terms of those trades. Issues such as tariffs and taxes, holding periods for goods, and trade restrictions may be discussed. Nations may also be concerned with topics such as public health or food safety which might be impacted through foreign trade. For example, a country with no history of bovine spongiform encephalitis, also known as mad cow disease, might state that it is not willing to import beef products from a country with a history of this disease, due to concerns about contamination.
All sides may be obligated to make concessions during a trade negotiation to make a deal which will work out well for everyone involved. A nation which sends representatives with good negotiation skills can strike a trade agreement which will be highly beneficial, while negotiators who are not good at the delicate dance of international negotiations may return to their home nations with a less favorable deal.
Although a trade negotiation meeting is technically about trade, some nations use it for other types of political negotiations. For example, a nation concerned about the environmental record of another nation might push that nation during a trade negotiation session to make policy changes by withholding a trade agreement until those changes are made. Likewise, a nation which wants other political concessions may threaten to revoke or refuse a trade agreement until these political terms are met.